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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

10s Machine: Definition, How It Works, and Applications

An iTENS kit and refill gel pads

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a form of electrotherapy that uses low-voltage electrical pulses for pain relief. A TENS or 10s machine is a battery-powered medical device, typically composed of electrode pads and a control unit to adjust the output. This device provides relief by sending electric pulses to trigger the pain gate mechanism and the production of endorphins. Many people use this because it is a non-invasive treatment method for acute and chronic pain.

Chronic pain affects people of all ages worldwide. It negatively impacts their daily lives and well-being by adding stress and limiting their mobility. To treat this, many turn to pain medicines. However, these can have unwanted side effects and lead to addiction. This is why TENS is gaining popularity as a drug-free method of alleviating pain. This article will present the definition of a TENS machine, how it works, and its benefits and applications.

Definition of a 10s Machine

A 10s machine, also known as a TENS machine, is a small battery-powered device used in TENS therapy. It delivers low-voltage electrical currents to the body using externally applied electrode pads to provide relief for various types of pain. This machine is commonly seen in medical settings, such as hospitals and pain clinics. People also purchase TENS devices for personal use.

Generally, there are two types of TENS machines. Traditional or wired units use lead cables to connect the control unit and the electrode pads. Meanwhile, wireless devices utilise Bluetooth to control the electrode pads using a separate controller or a smartphone application. Many prefer wireless units because of their advanced features and the conveniences they offer.

A feature that most TENS machines have is adjustable settings. This allows individuals to customise the electric stimulation depending on their medical condition and tolerance. Typically, a TENS machine will have a frequency range of 1-150 Hz and an intensity range of 0-80 mA. These wide ranges enable the device to temporarily reduce pain in people effectively.

A Brief History

  • The concept of electrical stimulation as a method of pain relief started in ancient times when Egyptians used electric fish to alleviate aches.
  • In 1965, Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall published the Gate Control Theory of Pain, which served as a basis for using electrotherapy as a method of pain relief.
  • In 1974, Clyde Norman Shealy developed the machines known as TENS units today. They were commonly used for migraines and chronic back pain.
  • Over the years, the understanding and technology behind TENS continued to improve and became widely used in various medical settings.
  • Today, portable personal devices are widely used at home.

A guide showing how to use the iTENS smartphone app

How Do 10s Machines Work?

10s machines work as a pain management method by using low-voltage electric currents to trigger various mechanisms in the body. Users activate these mechanisms by adjusting the pulse width, frequency, and intensity settings depending on their health issues. High-frequency stimulation (50-120 Hz) triggers the pain gate mechanism, a concept suggested in the Gate Control Theory of Pain. It typically takes effect a few minutes after the starting the session and lasts a few minutes after.

Meanwhile, low-frequency stimulation (2-10 Hz) triggers the production of endorphins. These hormones are natural pain relievers that bind to the opioid receptors and cause a reduction of pain. Endorphins also help alleviate inflammation, which can help improve mobility. Many use these for chronic pain conditions because their effects can last hours after the session.

Lastly, TENS improves blood circulation and increases blood flow to the target area. This can help reduce muscle tension, which can cause movement pain. It can also aid in speeding up the healing process since the new blood carries oxygen and nutrients essential for recovery.

Understanding Pain Signals

Pain is a complex sensation that involves many physiological and neurological processes. Hence, to fully understand how a TENS machine works, comprehending how pain signals function is crucial. Essentially, specialised nerve endings called nociceptors activate when an injury occurs. These send pain messages using electrical signals to the brain through the spinal cord.

The Gate Control Theory of Pain proposes that electrical stimulation can induce the sensory nerves to block the transmission of pain signals. This results in an immediate reduction of pain felt, providing relief from severe and acute pain. However, the effect typically fades a few minutes after the session.

A person placing a large wing electrode on the back of another person

Benefits and Applications of a 10s Machine

There are many benefits to using a 10s machine. Firstly, it is a non-invasive method of alleviating pain. This provides relief from the risks of infections and other complications that are common with procedures, such as injections or surgery. Secondly, TENS is drug-free. This is ideal for those who cannot take pain medication or helps lessen the intake of medicines that can have adverse effects. Lastly, TENS complements other forms of therapy and helps improve recovery.

TENS machines can be applied to help with various acute and chronic pain conditions. It helps with neuropathic pain and the conditions that cause it, like sciatica and diabetic neuropathy. They also help with causes of musculoskeletal pain, like arthritis and fibromyalgia. Many also use it for migraines and tension headaches.

In addition, TENS is effective against pain from sports injuries like fractures, sprains, and strains. It can also provide relief for sore muscles with its massage-like effect. Many women also use this to help with their period pain and cramps. Lastly, pregnant women can use this for labour pain management after ensuring it is safe for them with their healthcare provider.

How it Contributes to a Better Quality of Life

TENS is vital in improving quality of life, especially for individuals dealing with chronic pain or discomfort. It provides effective pain relief, which can significantly help reduce stress and give individuals a more positive outlook during their treatment.

Furthermore, TENS can help people regain mobility by alleviating stiffness and contributing to healing. Being able to do normal activities can help regain a sense of normalcy and allow individuals to take control of their lives. In addition, the endorphins produced from TENS use can help improve moods. Overall, using TENS can improve the quality of life.


A 10s machine is a medical device that uses low-voltage electric pulses for pain relief. They use electrodes to deliver the pulses and trigger the pain gate mechanism and endorphin production to alleviate pain. Many people use this in medical settings, but units are also available for personal use. These machines have adjustable settings that allow users to customise their treatment session depending on their condition. It is effective for conditions such as fibromyalgia, migraines, arthritis, and period pain.

TENS therapy can help improve the quality of life by aiding in healing and improving moods with endorphins. In addition, it can increase mobility by reducing inflammation and muscular pain. Nevertheless, consulting a medical professional is advised before using any electrotherapy device to ensure safety. These professionals can diagnose the condition and advise on how to use TENS. Those who are interested in using a wireless TENS machine may consider the iTENS from iTENS Australia.

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